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Ohio State uses dominant second quarter to blow out Northwestern 52-3

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Relive the Buckeyes’ big win and watch the biggest highlights.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

It was Friday Night Lights in Evanston, Ill. as the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes took to the road for a showdown with the Northwestern Wildcats in a rematch of last year’s Big Ten Championship game. It’s a new season, but it was the same result for the Wildcats, as the Buckeyes came away with the victory once again — dominating in a 52-3 win.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: Ohio State used a dominant second quarter to take a commanding lead against a feisty foe, sucking the life out of the opposition and eventually ending up with a blowout. Well, I am glad to inform you that it has happened again, as Ryan Day’s squad put up 24 unanswered points in the second quarter to take away any hope of an upset for the home team. If you’re keeping track, that is now a 231-31 first half advantage for the Bucks this season.

The Northwestern defense was actually a lot better than the final score would indicate, but the Wildcats could not get off of the field on third down. Ohio State converted on five of its first six third-down attempts with an average of eight yards to go on the sticks, including a crazy 3rd-and-15 conversion by Justin Fields, avoiding a sack and hitting K.J. Hill 20 yards downfield.

The Buckeye defense looked vulnerable early on, as the Cats picked up some decent gains on the ground in an attempt to stay in the game in some capacity. However, thanks in part to some drops and missed opportunities on the other side, the Silver Bullets were able to make adjustments and keep Northwestern out of the end zone in the first half. The OSU defensive line, led by Chase Young, made life difficult for quarterback Aidan Smith, who had little time to throw all night.

Justin Fields was absolutely brilliant, finishing with 194 passing yards and four touchdowns while completing 75 percent of his passes. The sophomore quarterback was an actual magician in the pocket, escaping a multitude of potential sacks all while keeping his eyes downfield and extending plays the entire time. J.K. Dobbins added 121 yards on the ground with a score of his own as the Ohio State offense simply overmatched a solid Wildcat defense to move to 7-0 on the year.

Northwestern’s defense came out hungry early in the game, forcing Ohio State into a couple of third-and-longs, yet ultimately could not get off the field. The running game wasn’t quite right on the opening drive for the Buckeyes, but Fields was able to get into a rhythm quickly, hitting a handful of short routes to the sideline before popping a 20-yard strike to a wide open Chris Olave over the middle to take an early 7-0 lead.

The Wildcat’s quarterback got an early face-to-face meeting with a Mr. Young, as the junior dominated his assignment en route to a sack on a play where NU came out in an empty backfield set — something that is not recommended against the nation’s top edge rusher. Shaun Wade had an interception go through his hands on third down, but the Cats would be forced to punt.

The home team got the ball back quickly, as the Buckeye run game continued to sputter out of the gate, resulting in a quick three-and-out. The Wildcats were able to put together a big drive on their ensuing possession, picking up large chunks of yards almost entirely in the ground game. In the end, the Buckeye defense was able to bend but not break, as Northwestern would have to settle for a field goal, cutting the lead to 7-3.

Enter the Ryan Day Second Quarter of Pain™.

The Wildcat defense continued to swarm early on, as Ohio State was basically living on third-and-longs at this point. After some heroics by Fields to escape a sack and complete a 20-yard pass to K.J. Hill on third-and-15, the Buckeyes were able to pick up the struggling ground game with a few quick strikes by their sophomore QB. The speed differential finally came into play on a 19-yard catch and run touchdown by J.K. Dobbins over the middle, as OSU went on top 14-3 on the long scoring drive.

A holding penalty pushed Northwestern back on its first drive of the second quarter — leading to a punt — and unfortunately for fans draped in purple it was time for “The J.K. Dobbins Show.”

On the very first play, the junior running back exploded up the middle, making a big cut and zooming down the sideline for a 68-yard gain all the way down to the five yard line. Dobbins would walk in it from there, as the short TD scamper put the Buckeyes up 21-3 with 9:36 to go until halftime. The Wildcats would wish there was less.

The next five or so minutes featured some good ol’ fashioned Big Ten football — with a bit of ugly and sloppy play by both sides — featuring a bunch of flags and a botched snap by Ohio State.

It would ultimately end in disaster for the boys in black, as a fumble on a punt attempt gave the Buckeyes the ball inside the redzone. Two plays later, the Scarlet and Gray put points on the board once again — this time on a dime from Fields to Olave as OSU opened up a 28-3 lead.

As if the nightmare second quarter couldn’t come to an end quick enough, the Bucks would add to the score as time expired with a career-long 55-yard field goal by Blake Haubeil to take a 31-3 lead into the locker room.

Ohio State picked up in the third quarter right where it left off. After forcing a punt on Northwestern’s first possession of the half, the Buckeyes went 65 yards in seven plays to put another touchdown on the board — a 23-yard pass to Austin Mack, the fourth passing TD for Fields on the night.

The defense got the Wildcats to turn the ball over on downs on their next possession, and the Bucks’ starters returned to the field for one final drive. Sticking mostly to the ground, the end result would be a punt, as the ones came off of the field having done their job — holding a 38-3 lead with a little over 14 minutes remaining in the contest.

The backups wanted in on the action as well. Sevyn Banks picked off Northwestern on its own 11-yard line, setting up the Buckeyes with an instant redzone opportunity. Chris Chugunov would find tight end Jeremy Ruckert wide open in the end zone a few plays later to add on to the big lead, but the reserves were not done yet. The very next possession, Master Teague took the first play 73 yards to the house, as Ryan Field was looking ready to be named Ryan Day Field with the score now 52-3.

Both teams continued to go deep into their benches, and with one last takeaway for the Buckeyes courtesy of an interception by Amir Riep, the score would go unchanged the rest of the way.

Ohio State has it’s biggest test of the season up next, with No. 6 Wisconsin coming to town next weekend. The Buckeyes first Top 10 clash of the year will kickoff in Columbus next Saturday, Oct. 26 at 12:00 noon ET. The game will be broadcast on Fox.